Cougar Town: “Too Much Ain’t Enough” (Episode 5.09)

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Cougar Town: “Too Much Ain’t Enough” (Episode 5.09)

It’s a bit odd for an episode of Cougar Town to have a truly overarching theme the way “Too Much Ain’t Enough” does. It’s not that the show is less structured than other sitcoms, but a lot of the time it feels like the creators of Cougar Town just don’t care. As the show’s not intended to be terribly deep in the first place, that makes sense, but when it does connect the dots, it’s a bit of an extra treat.

The episode was all about trends and perception, something the show rarely follows because its characters, being older and having their own odd subculture, usually just don’t care. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that they don’t care for very long, as every time something new comes into Gulfhaven, they tend to get it out of their systems long before the end of an episode. This time that strange new thing takes the form of…hipsters, which Travis becomes friends with due to working at the local coffee shop. When he takes them to Grayson’s bar, they laugh at it for being just a regular bar with bar food and instead head out to a terrible-looking hipster bar.

Grayson’s ability to get Travis and his friends to like him flounders for one thing because he’s like Travis’ dad, as the episode points out, but also because the bar is a faux-speakeasy filled with men wearing ironic mustaches in suspenders. And while, okay, there may be a little bit of exaggeration going on here, I would argue that it’s far less than you’d think. One odd point the episode makes is that Travis’ new friends love Tom, seemingly because he’s so normcore. The general message is that Grayson should just be himself and everything, but mostly the entire story had me afraid for Travis. After all, his girlfriend won’t even go near those friends, which is never a good thing. I’m going to hope that they disappear from the show just the way they arrived.

Meanwhile, Jules talks Andy into investing with her in a new product: the Guzzle Buddy (as the episode’s title card points out, they’re still not very good at naming things). The idea is it’s a glass you just plop on top of a wine bottle so you don’t have to pour. She’s convinced it’s brilliant—because who doesn’t want to drink a whole bottle of wine at one time? It fails to sell because it’s way too much of a niche product to become a big trend based only on its sales from a small kiosk in Gulfhaven. This is kind of an odd storyline, though, as her idea isn’t really that bad; it’s just bad for the market. If she were selling those things online, I can see them doing just fine. Cougar Town makes this about the way Andy gets too enthusiastic about any of his friends’ ideas, which is certainly true, but the story ended without any particular resolution. The episode just stopped, with Jules’ house still filled with Guzzle Buddies—which isn’t to say this was a bad thing, either. It was, if anything, an oddly realistic way for things to end.

The truly strange story, though, was Bobby’s. When he buys a nice bag, everyone laughs at him, so he decides to wreck it so that everyone will think it fits with his general identity—he wants to be the Bobby Cobb everyone expects. He and Laurie spend much of the episode beating the crap out of the bag and waiting for it to get ruined (the best part of which is that he doesn’t explain the reasoning to Laurie. She just starts beating it because she noticed him doing so). Eventually Laurie gives him his little moral, that he should just own who he is and not try to conform to anyone’s expectations, and he gives a wonderfully strange strut down the Gulfhaven streets showing off his new bag. That it’s ultimately stolen proves how successful he really was.

It was nice that even the almost-filler story of “Too Much Ain’t Enough” did something unique, while the bigger storylines were bringing something new to the show. The episode even grew the characters a bit, which is something Cougar Town hasn’t done much of in a while. Its rut tends to be that everyone on the show knows who they are and goes about their stories without surprises, but the trends here took the characters a little bit outside of their comfort zones. For once, it wasn’t an episode of Cougar Town that felt interchangeable with previous ones, and that extra push of ambition could be felt all through the episode, which featured fresher jokes as well. It wasn’t an episode that required drinking an entire bottle of wine to enjoy, even if that’s how the show would prefer it.